Even though CO2 laser technology was still dominant in for production laser welding until a few years ago, this has greatly shifted to the use of solid-state lasers. A comparison will show us why this is the case.
Solid-state laser versus gas laser – a comparison
13.07.2015 - Oliver Hagenlocher
If we consider the running costs of laser welding systems, it is primarily energy consumption which results in the biggest share of overhead. These costs, on the one hand, are attributable to the energy expended to operate the laser and, on the other, to the energy needed to cool the laser. This results in an easy calculation: the less energy that needs to be expended, the less cooling that is necessary. If we compare the two laser technologies, there are clear advantages in favor of the solid-state laser: 56 kW of electric current is used by a CO2 laser to generate a laser capacity of 4 kW, while a solid-state laser requires just 17 kW, an energy savings of 70 percent.
The production laser welding system must be optimally integrated in the part flow of the entire manufacturing system in order to achieve productive operation. Here as well, handling a solid-state laser is far simpler than if using a CO2 laser system which takes up far more space for the required gas logistics. Additionally, a clear disadvantage is that CO2 lasers cannot be easily integrated into an existing production line, requiring part flow to be organized around the laser welding system. Solid-state laser welding systems require far less space and the laser source itself can be up to 50 m away.
A third argument in favor of a solid-state laser technology is the higher welding speed which can be. A higher processing speed means less warpage of the component due to heat, which minimizes or even eliminates the need for reworking.
Of course, using solid-state lasers also brings its own set of challenges, as their use requires extremely high accuracy. This requirement is met fully by EMAG’s ELC laser welding machines. In combination with application-specific development of the tools, using the ELC laser welding machines allows optimal results and consequently excellent conditions for using solid-state lasers.